Spring lamb throughput remains low with just 4,700 killed for Easter

The number of spring lambs slaughtered so far this year remains low, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

To the week ending March 20, there were 4,698 spring lambs slaughtered at Department approved sheepmeat export plants.

Figures from the Department show that spring lamb kill for the weeks leading up to Easter in 2015 stood at 6,113 head.

This means that spring lamb throughput is 1,415 head or 23% lower this year compared to the Easter kill last year.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that the week-on-week spring lamb kill has dropped by 8% (-185 head) between the weeks ending March 13 and March 20 this year.

Earlier this year, farming organisations were disappointed with the prices offered for spring lamb, with some factories starting with a base quote of 640c/kg.

According to both the ICSA and IFA, farmers need €7/kg to make spring lamb production viable and if this price was not attained farmers could turn their backs on early lamb production.

Sheep kill continues to rise

Despite the week-on-week spring lamb kill falling, the number of hoggets slaughtered at Department approved plants rose last week.

Figures from the Department show that the week-on-week hogget kill jumped by 13% between the week ending March 13 and March 20. This is an increase of about 5,000 head.

The increase in hogget throughput was the main reason for a rise in a 8% rise in the total number of sheep slaughtered last week.

Like spring lambs, there was also a reduction in the number of cast slaughterings last week, with the the week-on-week throughput falling by 15% or 956 head.

Source: Department of Agriculture
Source: Department of Agriculture

Week-on-week sheep kill changes: 
  • Hoggets: +4,965 head (+13%)
  • Spring lambs: -185 head (-8%)
  • Ewe and rams: -956 head (-15%)
  • Total sheep kill: +3,824 (+18%)

Cumulative sheep kill up 11%

The number of sheep slaughtered at sheepmeat plants to March 20 this year is 11% higher than the same time in 2015, Department figures show.

Most of this increase comes from a rise in hogget and cast slaughterings.

Hogget throughput has increased by 7% this year on last year’s levels. While the number of ewes and rams killed at Department approved plants is up by 36% or 66,502 head on 2015 levels.